Pakistan floods: ‘The water came and now everything is gone’

The damage inside one of the town's flooded homes
The damage inside one of the town's flooded homes/courtesy of Facebook

Massive, relentless rains in Pakistan have wrecked houses and possessions, affected tens of millions of people, and claimed more than a thousand lives.

In the north and south of the nation, two BBC journalists report on the destruction they encounter.

Nowshera, northern Pakistan

Residents of the northern town of Nowshera are attempting to return to their houses to assess the damage and see what they can save while wading through the flood-devastated streets of the suburbs.

Others cautiously went into the murky brown water, which at times reached their chests. Some others used black rubber tubes to help them float around.

Imadullah, a cook, had just made it to his family’s house with his little kid perched over his shoulders. All of their possessions were stacked up, muddied, and essentially useless.

“We’ve got nothing left,” he told the BBC, “We couldn’t save anything, just our children’s lives.”

Two women clung to one other for support as they made their way home farther down the water-logged road. The water, however, was too deep.

“I don’t know how we would reconstruct it; we don’t know if it’s still standing or has collapsed,” one responded. We are camped up inside a school. God is my testimony that we are poor.”

Millions of people are now homeless as a result of the hundreds of thousands of homes that were completely or partially destroyed across the nation. According to Pakistani officials, the damage is estimated to be worth $10 billion, which raises worries about food shortages due to destroyed crops.

Many people currently reside in relief camps. Hundreds of others have pitched tents close to Nowshera so they can at least monitor their homes from there and plan to return as soon as the water levels drop any lower.

Rozina, who is surrounded by her seven children, adds, “It’s so awful I can’t even put it into words.”

Annually, there are heavy monsoon rains, but not on this magnitude. Parts of Pakistan have had many times as much rain as they would have in a regular year.

Despite just making up a miniscule percentage of the world’s emissions, government leaders claim that the country is already feeling the effects of climate change because this summer’s rain is the greatest on record in ten years.

At a meeting for foreign media, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif responded to complaints that authorities had been sluggish to act when the floods initially started earlier this summer by speaking to the BBC.

He stated, “We will definitely learn from our experience, but the world community should stand behind us today, as there is a gaping gap between what we need and what we are now getting.

Saeedabad, south Pakistan

In some areas of Pakistan, the rains have ceased, but the damage is far from done. Large areas of land are already unusable in the southern regions of the country as a result of heavy floods in the north.

Millions of people are now homeless as a result of the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dwellings. Hundreds of people are living on the side of a gravel road in Saeedabad, Sindh province of Pakistan; when the road stops, waist-deep water starts.

Banul and her family

Their homes can be seen in the distance; in some, the floods are as high as the windows.

In a tent with 15 kids, including some of Banul’s and her nieces and nephews, I first met her. She is relieved they are all still alive, but she is now concerned about how they will provide for the kids.

“We have been living here for weeks, no house, just one tent for all of us. We need help. We could only save our lives,” says Banul.

“Back home we were farmers. We had cotton, we had maize. Everything was ready – the water came and now everything is gone. We have nothing and no food.”

The travelers on this dusty road to nowhere can go days without eating. When a food truck passes by, the available food disappears rapidly, so not everyone gets to eat.

Local employees claim they don’t have enough resources and are overworked. In remote towns where the unpaved roads have been submerged by the waves, relief attempts have been unexpected.

When or if foreign help does arrive, one of the main problems relief workers will have is getting it to everyone who needs it while the roads are impassable and hundreds of people are still stranded by water.

However, help is those people’s final chance to survive the disaster that has struck and taken so much from them.

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